Milk supply in Maharashtra was badly hit after thousands of farmers launched a protest on Monday, demanding better price and subsidy of Rs 5 per litre. Tankers supplying milk to major cities including Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Nashik and others were blocked early morning leading to sudden crisis.
The farmers' groups, led by Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana and Maharashtra Kisan Sabha are demanding a GST waiver on butter and milk powder apart from the subsidy.
Protesters waylaid tankers with thousands of litres of milk. Milk pouches were strewn on the roads in Pune, Nashik, Kolhapur, Sangli, Palghar, Buldana, Aurangabad and Solapur. Reports say a tanker was set on fire near Amravati.
"The state government has fixed the procurement price of Rs 27 per litre but the farmers get barely Rs 17 per litre. We are demanding a direct subsidy of Rs 5 per litre to the farmers, as provided in Goa, Karnataka and Kerala. With a drop in the rates of skimmed milk powder, even the milk cooperatives are facing a tough time," said MP Raju Shetti, President of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana.
The state government has said milk would be brought from other states, especially neighbouring Gujarat and Karnataka but farmers' leaders claimed they will start a 'Satyagraha' and ensure that no milk is brought from outside.
The issue echoed in the Maharashtra Assembly in Nagpur. Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development Minister Mahadev Jankar assured that people will not go without milk. Mumbai, which requires over seven million litres fresh milk daily, has adequate stocks of 15 days said the minister, and most urban centres together need over 10 million litres, with Pune and its suburbs requiring 1.3 million litres daily.
"We are trying to resolve the issue. If anybody attempts to break the law, they will be dealt with sternly," Mr Jankar has warned the farmers.
(With inputs from ANI, PTI and IANS)